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Anonymous backs down from Operation Facebook

Plans to take down social networking giant Facebook on the 5th of November by splinter from notorious hactivism group Anonymous have been revealed as little more than boasts, as the group behind the planned attack reveals that it won't be going ahead after all.

Last week, members of Anonymous released a video which claimed that a large-scale attack - dubbed, in Anonymous style, Operation Facebook - would be carried out against the social networking site on the 5th of November in retaliation for the company's abuses of privacy.

"Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your 'privacy' settings," the group warned in a promotional video publicising the planned attack, "and deleting your account is impossible. Even if you 'delete' your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time. Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more 'private' is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family."

While privacy advocates will agree with the sentiments expressed in the video, most in the industry doubted that Anonymous could have any impact on Facebook's day-to-day operation. Unlike smaller outfits targeted by Anonymous and others rallying under the AntiSec banner in the past, Facebook is vast and has far more servers than Anonymous could hope to take down with a distributed denial of service attack.

The first chinks in Operation Facebook's armour appeared when the Anonymous mouthpiece Twitter account @AnonOps outed the plan as a fake, before abruptly changing its story some three hours later. "#OpFacebook is being organised by some Anons," an update admitted. "This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it."

The final nail in the coffin for Operation Facebook comes from the @OP_Facebook Twitter feed itself, which announced earlier this week that the attack was cancelled. "OK, I'm making one thing clear here," the group wrote, "we can't take Facebook down... Yet. This is an awareness campaign and spreading the word is good enough."

The downgrading of Operation Facebook from site-toppling attack to mere awareness campaign will come as a relief to the social networking giant, but suggests that the glory days of Anonymous may have passed.